Category Archives: News

A New Look for CourtReference.com

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We’ve made it easier for you to find the court-related information you need on CourtReference.com. When you search for your local court information on CourtReference.com, you will select a county; then CourtReference.com will display a page containing a list of all the courts in that county, along with contact information for each court.

Until our recent re-design, each court’s information was followed by three links: an “Online Resources” link, a “Map This Court” link, and a link containing the name of the court. If you didn’t know what those links meant – or didn’t realize they were links, even … Read More

Case Records Get More Mobile

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Just a few years ago, some courts started making court records and calendars available via mobile apps; we talked about it here. Those services required an iOS, Android, or BlackBerry app to be downloaded to your mobile device.

Since we last covered this topic, more court systems have offered mobile app access to their case records, calendars, and other information. Examples abound:

In Illinois, the Cook County Clerk of Circuit Court offers downloadable iOS and Android apps that include case record searches, traffic ticket searches, court location information and mapping, a fee schedule, and contact information.

In Ohio, the … Read More

Mental Health Courts

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Lately there have been a disturbing number of news reports about mentally-ill people being shot by police. The need for better training of police to deal with the mentally ill has been amply covered by other blogs. But mentally-ill people who survive their encounter with law enforcement have a chance for better treatment from the court system – and that’s where this blog comes in.

Back in 2008 we touched on two different aspects of court procedure involving people with mental health problems. A court system’s involvement with a mentally ill person may occur when the person is facing involuntary … Read More

Juvenile Records – Sealing or Expungement

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In our July 2008 post about juvenile court records, we noted that most juvenile court records are confidential. This is done to protect the juvenile, on the theory that juveniles are more prone to bad decisions than adults (i.e., they do “dumb things”), but that they can be rehabilitated. Law enforcement agencies and the court system can see juvenile records, but the general public cannot.

Background checks for the purposes of employment and housing – and sometimes for college admission, financial aid, etc. – are the general public’s main interest in court records. Since most juveniles are not yet … Read More

Gun Court

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Guns are in the news lately. The USA is a big country with a lot of guns, some of which are used to kill large numbers of people, generating news reports. Some are used in confrontations that become high-profile trials, generating more news reports.

From Newtown CT to Sanford FL, the headlines have driven debate about guns and gun violence. The debate in turn drives more headlines about guns – so guns are in the news. But in the USA, guns are always in the news. Although the Sandy Hook school shooting and the George Zimmerman trial make headlines, guns … Read More

Natural Disaster? You May Need a Lawyer

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Think back just a few years, and what events stand out in your memory? Some really big ones may jump out at you: the 2004 Indonesian tsunami; the 2011 Japanese earthquake, tsunami, and nuclear accident. A little more recent and closer to home: Hurricane Katrina, August 2005 (over 1800 dead, over $100 billion in damage). The Joplin, Missouri tornado, May 2011 (over 150 dead, nearly $3 billion).

But when you think about just last year in the United States, the number and frequency of natural disasters becomes more striking. The worst of 2012:

  • Hurricane Isaac, August – AL, FL, LA,
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Court Appearances by Television

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This blog has been following the expansion of the use of technology in the justice system. See our posts about electronic filing (2010), court appearances by telephone (2011), and fighting tickets online (2012).

Video technology is also being embraced by the courts. One well-established use of video is the recording of depositions. A deposition is the sworn oral testimony of a party or witness that takes place prior to trial. Depositions are a form of evidence, and they are normally taken in court reporters’ or lawyers’ offices. Video is simply used to record the testimony, and replaces … Read More

There’s an App for That…

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Yes, it does seem like there’s an app for everything. What about court calendars and other case information? Although some courts don’t have that information online, many do – and a few are providing apps to make that same information available on mobile devices.

There are many apps available to track important cases, mostly U.S. Supreme Court cases. There are also many apps that provide access to state and federal laws and court rules. So far, these are commercial products available at the app store, but neither available from nor sanctioned by court systems.

Some appellate-level courts, such as the … Read More

Going to Court by Mail

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Court systems continue to develop new ways of streamlining their procedures to reduce their expenses and backlog, and to improve customer service. Last year we noted the rise of telephonic court appearances for self-represented parties in some types of hearings. But “phoning it in” isn’t the only way to avoid a trip to the courthouse. In some areas, it is now possible to contest your traffic ticket by mail.

While telephone hearings are limited to routine motions that don’t require presentation of evidence or sworn testimony, traffic ticket mail contests are the real thing: the determination of guilt or innocence. … Read More

State Court Records Access-Does the Medium Matter?

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Historically, state courts have offered public access to court records where the information resides-at the local courthouse. Any person willing to travel to the courthouse could request to view and copy records from the court clerk or document custodian in the available format, whether paper or electronic. However, with the emergence of record scanning, data collection and storage, the public has demanded instant delivery of all court documents, including judicial opinions, orders, pleadings, and images. Many state courts have developed web sites and online subscription services to provide virtual access to their records, previously accessible only by physically visiting the … Read More